Solberg farm becomes an epilepsy colony
Partly because the nursing home had too few places to cover the need, and partly because of complaints from neighbours, the Association of Deacons chose to purchase Solberg farm, which was centrally located in Bærum, and move the nursing home there in 1912 (Figure 2). The farm owned 50 hectares of cultivated land and cost NOK 63 000. The institution was patterned on epilepsy colonies in other European countries, and started its activities in the spring of 1913.
Patients from all over the country were referred to Solberg farm. Approximately 80 % of the admissions were funded by public authorities, mainly by local poor relief agencies. The remaining 20 % were paid for by the patients' relatives. Sometimes the willingness to pay was low, and perhaps also the ability. The following is written about one patient who was admitted from February 1913 until August 1914: 'His father wanted to take him home. Unable to pay for him in this time of high costs.' About another patient who was admitted for six months in 1914, it says: 'Moved back home to his mother, since Larvik poor relief fund no longer wanted to pay for him.'
Financial constraints were a major problem during the first years. Professor Christopher Blom Leegaard (1851–1921) at the National Hospital, who was the first medical supervisor, was paid an annual salary of NOK 500. When Peter Christen Barth (1872–1942) took over in 1920, the annual salary was raised to NOK 600.
According to Wærnes' estimates of dietary costs in 1909, the payment per patient per day was NOK 1.21, while the costs amounted to NOK 1.45, i.e. a difference of NOK 0.24. By 1919, this difference had increased to NOK 2.16. There were also other worries: '... for next winter we will need to purchase firewood. The forest has been so drastically thinned that no more of it can be felled ...'
Elsewhere, Wærnes writes: 'We all surely agree that good care of the sick should not only be endeavoured, but also realised, but this is where finances often intervene to the patients' detriment. Compassion on the part of the staff may smooth out the deficiencies, this is true, but ...'
The number of patients varied from 50 in 1905 to 82 in 1917, while the number of annual hospitalisation days varied from around 13 000 in 1908 to around 23 000 in 1917.